MEDIA AND SPORTS SPECTACLE: TV COVERAGE OF RUGBY IN THE U.S.A.
This project analyzes the TV coverage of rugby in the U.S., the development of the sport into a media spectacle in preparation for the 2016 Olympics, and highlights the importance of TV coverage in stimulating growth and expansion of a sport and granting it mainstream status. The transformation of rugby into media spectacle was primarily observed by analyzing the results of a survey posted online and sent to rugby fans throughout the U.S., particularly participants’ feelings on rugby TV coverage, rugby access, and general exposure to the sport. The overall perception of rugby TV coverage in the U.S. is very poor, while access to games remains limited. And though some networks are demonstrating real interest in rugby, namely due to its Olympic re-inclusion, they have yet to implement the right packaging to present rugby as a sports spectacle. Survey responses show, however, that existing fans are generally satisfied with the current rugby television format’s ability to portray several angles and share-ability of the experience with friends and family. Ultimately, television coverage will be the key to spreading the game to new fans and future athletes, but serious improvement are still needed in promoting game schedules, beefing up broadcast commentary, and ensuring that the sport is accessible at the right time and on the right channel.
Keywords: sports media, rugby, sports spectacle, TV coverage, media exposure, Olympics